Training and development at both ends of the workforce continuum Opportunities and recommended actions

By Jerry Hedge, Jay Feldman

In the US, the youth (16 to 24 years old) unemployment rate has been in double-digits for the last seven years. During recessions and in weak job markets, youth are usually the first to be fired and last to be hired. While older workers (55 years and older) continue to be an essential and growing component of the workforce, they are particularly susceptible to personnel cuts, and once unemployed often face greater employment challenges than younger workers. Thus, both youth and older workers find themselves at a disadvantage in the job market, facing employment hurdles associated with skills and experience deficits. Preparing youth for success in tomorrow’s workforce is of increasing concern to our nation’s schools, communities, policy makers, and businesses. Likewise, taking advantage of the expertise and institutional knowledge possessed by older workers makes good business sense. Significant changes in the nature of work, and traditional approaches to education, training, and development often create skills-job requirements mismatches. Thus, a new learning framework and philosophy is required that emphasizes developing performance-based knowledge and skill sets from a variety of learning systems, and a willingness to learn new things in different ways in work settings, in postsecondary institutions, or through self-directed learning.


Hedge, J., & Feldman, J. (2015). Training and development at both ends of the workforce continuum: Opportunities and recommended actions. (RTI Press Publication No. RB-0010-1508). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Jerry HedgeJerry W. Hedge, PhD, is a program director and senior research scientist in RTI’s Survey Research Division. He has been involved in human resource management research and application for more than 30 years. He is currently directing the evaluation of a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant for the U.S. Department of Labor. Dr. Hedge has previously co-authored The Aging Workforce: Realities, Myths, and Implications for Organizations (2006) and co-edited the Oxford Handbook of Work and Aging (2012), as well as authoring a number of journal articles and book chapters on the topic. He is a fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the American Psychological Association

Jay FeldmanJay Feldman, PhD, is a senior research associate in RTI’s Education and Workforce Division. He has worked for more than 20 years in social science and education research and evaluation. Trained as a developmental psychologist, he has worked in K–16 instruction, pedagogy, and curriculum; postsecondary education; informal learning environments; and youth development. Dr. Feldman is currently directing the evaluations of a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant for the U.S. Department of Labor and a number of evaluations of schools and nonprofit organizations that focus on developing youths for college and careers (including career academies, apprenticeship, and internship programs).

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